Social perception of children with autism spectrum disorders



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A broad review of assessment and intervention research relevant to Theory of Mind (Baron-Cohen, 1985) and Autism Spectrum Disorders from birth to age twelve was conducted. Nine assessment articles were reviewed to examine the major differences between children with autism spectrum disorders and children who are typically developing, particularly in the area of social perception. Assessment tasks aimed to discover a child's thoughts relevant to another's thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. It was discovered that children with autism spectrum disorders performed less well on Theory of Mind tasks, and tended to provide responses that were more egocentric and idiosyncratic in nature. A review of the intervention research revealed improvement in Theory of Mind domains is possible when teaching strategies explicitly target goals relevant to perspective taking. Generalization of skills to natural environments was a lacking area across all twelve articles, indicating a need for more intensive practice in natural environments. Interestingly, when social skills were taught in the absence of Theory of Mind training, no collateral effects were observed to Theory of Mind domain.